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Myths & Facts About Ringworm

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Myth 6: You'll see symptoms of ringworm right after you're infected

Ringworm has a long incubation period. The red rash can actually take a few days to appear on your skin. If you have ringworm of the scalp, you may not see any signs for a full two weeks after you were exposed. 

Myth 7: You can't catch ringworm from your pet

Humans and their pets can share a number of diseases, including ringworm. Not only can you catch ringworm from your cat, dog, rabbit, or bird, but you can give it to your pet, too. That's why it's important to take your pet to the vet if you suspect ringworm. Keep infected pets away from your family -- as well as from other pets. And wash your hands with soap and warm water every time you touch your pet until the infection clears. 

Myth 8: A flaky scalp is probably dandruff, not ringworm

Not necessarily. Sometimes ringworm of the scalp doesn't produce the signature ring. Instead, the skin becomes scaly and flaky, much like dandruff.  

Myth 9: Only the infected person needs to be treated for ringworm

Because ringworm is so contagious, other people in the household may also need to be treated -- even if they don't have any symptoms. If there's a chance they may have picked up ringworm of the scalp, they may need to use a special shampoo and be examined to determine if there is an infection. 

Myth 10: Ringworm is treated with antibiotics

Antibiotics kill bacteria. They won't work on ringworm, which is caused by a fungus. Ringworm is treated with antifungal medicines that you either rub on the skin or take by mouth. Ringworm of the scalp is treated with a special shampoo and an oral antifungal medicine. You may have to keep using whatever medicine you're prescribed for several weeks to fully get rid of the infection. 

Myth 11: Once you get ringworm, you can't catch it again

It's common to get infected again, especially with ringworm of the nails.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on April 13, 2014
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